In a summer teeming with Isiah Thomas offseason news -- from his stated desire to be an NBA general manager to his questionable (and quickly squashed) bid to remain an official consultant to the Knicks during his FIU tenure -- this might be the one that most disappoints Florida International basketball fans.
Dominique Ferguson, Thomas' top recruit in the class of 2010, will be academically ineligible for the coming fall semester, according to Fox's Jeff Goodman. This, obviously, is bad news: Ferguson was the biggest recruiting coup of Thomas' young tenure. His top 100 ESPNU ranking-- No. 58, to be exact -- would make him the most talented player at FIU since the Halcyon Days of Carlos Arroyo and Raja Bell (1998-2001).
Ferguson was also recruited by Kentucky, Duke, Indiana, UCLA, and Arizona, but many of those programs ended up getting cold feet because of perceived academic and attitude issues. Ferguson struggled with his grades at Indianapolis' Lawrence North High School before transferring to Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) for his senior season.
In any case, with or without Ferguson, it was unlikely FIU was going to burst on the national scene this season; a handful of good-but-not-great recruits wasn't going to turn the 7-25 Panthers into the Gonzaga of the east quite so quickly. But if Ferguson continues to struggle to get eligible, Thomas' ability to prove he can lure top recruits -- without these sort of Lance Stephenson-esque warts -- will be an issue.